To date, the City has approved four retail cannabis shops to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. The four shops are still awaiting official approval from the province but make up the complete complement of shops allowed to operate in Merritt.
Before legalization, the previous council created a bylaw stating that no more than four shops could operate in the city. The current council is looking into the possibility of removing that cap.
University of Victoria Co-op Law Student Greg Lowis provided the details on the extensive report drafted by staff.
“Merritt is very unusual in having a cap on the municipality as a whole and not in specific areas,” said Lowis. “The RCMP detachment indicated that they had no concerns about raising the cap. It’s worth remembering that there are no stores open yet so there may be some practical experience yet to come.”
Coun. Tony Luck moved a motion to have the recommendation of removing the cap be read twice and advanced to a public hearing.
“I don’t want to start proposing amendments to the report because I would like to hear from the public first,” said Luck. “I just want to go into this pure and get some feedback from the public before making decisions.”
Coun. Mike Bhangu was originally planning to oppose the motion but agreed with Luck’s comments on waiting to hear from the public.
The idea of taking it to the public was echoed by Coun. Kurt Christopherson and Mayor Linda Brown who mentioned that the market will decide how many of the shops survive and succeed.
The exact date of the public hearing has not been announced.
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